Saint Colman Catholic Church

St. Colman Catholic Church, located on W. 65th Street near Lorain Avenue, was founded in 1880 as a response to the rapidly growing Irish immigrant population on Cleveland's West Side. Father Eugene M. O'Callaghan, former pastor of the predominately Irish St. Patrick's Catholic Church, held the first mass in a rented home off of Gordon Street (W 65th Street). Later that year, the first church was constructed on Gordon Street and the home was converted into St. Colman School. With over 1,000 worshipers in 1883, the church was expanding in both its size and the role it played within the surrounding community. A new school was built on Gordon Street in 1885, and a convent was constructed for the Sisters of St. Joseph to begin their residency the following year. By 1904, a larger 3 level schoolhouse opened that included a 1,000 seat auditorium in the basement.

Taking four years to construct, St. Colman Catholic Church opened its doors in 1918. The classical style structure could accommodate 2,800 people. St. Colman continued to expand, with a convent added in 1921, and both a second school and rectory constructed in 1930. The Church continued to act as the centerpiece of the neighborhood's Irish community until the middle of the century.

The West Side Irish community remained stable until the end of World War II. Soon after, however, the community dissolved as a result of the general exodus of Cleveland residents away from the urban core. In this changing environment, St. Colman Church evolved to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse and less prosperous community. With the 1904 school being closed and demolished in 1974, St. Colman opened one of the West Side's first preschools in its 1930 school building. Additionally, the church expanded its role ministering and providing social services to the outlying neighborhood through the development of a recovery program, literacy projects, an outreach ministry, and HUD supported housing for senior citizens.

Images

Audio

Father O'Leary's Legacy
Sister Ann Kilbane describes how Father O'Leary's reaction to prejudice against the Irish community helped create something beautiful.
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St. Coleman's Ethnic Heritage
Sister Ann Kilbane briefly describes the history of the Detroit Shoreway's Irish community.
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